This watercolor of a rooster was made without making an underlying drawing first. Using a photograph as my source, I sketched in the shapes with yellow watercolor and went from there, painting the shapes, building up values and punching up to brighter colors. My teacher and fellow students told me to stop painting at this point. So here it is. I would have gone on fiddling with the details and probably would have ruined the rooster, lost the freshness, and muddied the colors if I had done this at home alone.
Next, I painted a red bird, also from one of my teacher’s wildlife photographs. Red Bird quickly became Drippy Sad Bird, so I stopped painting. He has a nice droopy affect that is kind of comical, so I like him even though this is a bit of a technical #fail.
Sad Bird, watercolor
After class, I brought home the source photographs and continued working. The image below shows the process from top left to the final bird on the bottom right. I made a sketch first with yellow ochre watercolor pencil. Next, I might make another painting of this bird or, more likely, for my sanity, I will try painting another bird for a change. Clearly, capturing shapes and values with watercolor is very challenging, as advertised. The hardest part for me is just to sit down and make art and be willing to fail, over and over, with the occasional successful Rooster popping up under my paint brush in a happy accident.
Red Bird, watercolor
What do you do with a burnt cake? Do you save the good bits, ice it prodigiously, and serve it anyway? Or do you toss it in the bin with a vengeful thump and cross that recipe off your list decisively? And what do I do with a painting gone very wrong? Here is the visual evidence of my recent attempts to paint a vase of flowers.
First try: ack!
First try vase of flowers
Second try: sigh
Can this painting be salvaged?
Third try: turn over the paper over from #1:
Okay, getting better, or at least it has potential. While I wait for it to dry, I go after Painting #3 with crayons and channel the Fauvists. Opposite colors adjacent to each other. And start stamping in patterns, because, why not?
The Fauve painting:
Can I call this Fauvism or Fail?
Then I return to painting # 3 which I think of as the conventional, normal, pretty good/not bad ‘Vase of Flowers’ still life in watercolor only, and dab in some blocky brushstrokes with a square tipped brush to bring the painting out of its anemic state.
Still life flowers
So that’s it for now. The very bad, awkward #1 is hidden on the back of normal, conventional #3 and the wild beast #2 is masking attempt #2. I can live with either of these but the uncontrollable aspects of the medium tempted me to throw them all away. As for the ruined cake? I threw mine in the bin every year on my kids’ birthdays and drove frantically to a bakery to replace my awful cakes. After some years, I skipped the baking part and went straight to the bakery. But the funny thing is that my kids like talking about the awful cakes. We learn from our mistakes, plus they make some funny memories.
Ink and watercolor on paper 2014